With a pandemic spreading and demand for sanitizer skyrocketing, the U.K. micro-distillery Psychopomp pivoted its business to produce 100ml bottles of hand sanitizer, which they offered in exchange for donations. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the food-truck-turned-restaurant Guerrilla Tacos began offering emergency kits containing all the fixings for making tacos at home—plus a roll of toilet paper.
As the need for social distancing continues, businesses both small and large have had to get creative to continue making money in this unprecedented stay-at-home marketplace. Whether you’re an employee at a company that has closed its doors during the pandemic or a small business owner looking for ways to stay afloat, chances are you’ve got some extra time on your hands. With a little ingenuity, you can use that time to generate new income streams for your family or business.
The art of the pivot
The key to adapting in times of drastic change is to learn how to pivot. It’s a technique successful businesses often employ to navigate the ups and downs that occur in every market. In fact, one researcher estimates as many as 20 percent of companies undergo a pivot at some point during their lifetime.
Pivoting your business means abruptly shifting your focus to fill a new need, serve a different customer base, switch revenue models, or develop a different sales or distribution channel. During social distancing, many small businesses have continued to thrive by going digital, serving high-risk populations who are sheltering at home, and creating pandemic-related products in high demand.
But the concept doesn’t just apply to businesses. Individuals, too, can pivot to meet the changing demands for their skills and abilities. To find or create new income streams for yourself, start by asking the following questions:
- What problems do people have that they’re willing to pay to solve?
- What abilities do you have that can help meet people’s needs?
- What products or services can you provide online or from a safe distance?
Whatever answers you come up with can help guide the direction of your pivot.
6 ways to pivot your income
Not sure where to go next? Here are a few viable ways to boost your income while continuing to practice social distancing:
1. Take your talents online. Take stock of your talents, skills and interests, and consider how you might share them in a digital format rather than face to face. For example, fitness instructors are delivering lessons via YouTube. Hair and makeup artists are creating tutorial videos. If you’ve got a business based around a certain skill, reach out to your existing customers and offer subscriptions to your digital services.
2. Become a virtual teacher, tutor or coach. With schools closed, kids of all ages need help keeping up with their studies. In households where parents are still working, finding the time to homeschool can be difficult. Online tutoring companies like Varsity Tutors are looking for people to provide virtual instruction. Or, if you prefer to focus on an adult audience, turn your area of expertise into an online course or virtual coaching service.
3. Open an Etsy store. Got a creative hobby that’s been keeping your hands busy? Start selling your arts and crafts online. With everyone spending more time indoors, online shopping has more moneymaking potential than ever. Digital marketplaces such as Etsy make it easy to open your own virtual store—or, if you own a brick-and-mortar retail shop, find out how to get started as an Amazon seller.
4. Sell your photos as stock images. Amateur and professional photographers alike can make money off their images by selling them on stock art websites such as iStockPhoto or Shutterstock. You might not make much at it, but if you upload enough images it can become an extra stream of passive income.
5. Start a contactless concierge service. Look around your neighborhood and you’ll likely find plenty of people who need help walking their dogs, getting groceries and other necessities, or performing outdoor tasks. While popular online delivery services might seem to have them covered, many people may appreciate a more personal (non) touch.
6. Partner with other businesses. Find other local businesses or individuals to team up with and put your skills together to create a new offering. Such partnerships can open up access to new customers, products or markets. For example, one London Brewery teamed up with out-of-work musicians to hand-deliver “Pub in a Box” kits complete with glassware, snacks, a music quiz, playlists and beer.
Staying at home doesn’t have to mean remaining idle. With a little creativity and industry, you can leverage your extra free time into extra money.